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Caregivers struggling as adult day facilities remain closed

Posted at 10:21 PM, May 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-27 22:21:37-04

CLEVELAND — As the state is gradually reopening and many people are heading back to work, those who care for their adult loved ones are still struggling.

In mid-March, Governor Mike DeWine ordered the closure of senior centers and adult day facilities to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

As nursing homes and other congregate facilities have been ravaged by the virus, those places remain closed.

Joel Brence is struggling to care for his ailing wife without the weekly help of adult day services.

“It’s a strange situation,” Brence said. “We have an aging population and yet the older people kind of get the short side of the stick.”

Joel and Ursula’s love story dates back five decades.

“This is my partner for 50 years,” Brence said.

His wife Ursula has Alzheimer's Disease and requires around-the-clock care at home.

“It’s very important for me that she preserve her sense of personhood, who she is,” Brence said. “And that’s something that sometimes gets lost in just a nursing home.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Brence relied on the help of Acacia Place Adult Day Center to care for his wife several hours a week.

“This way she has kind of the best of two worlds,” Brence said. “She’s able to come home and knows who she is.”

With health issues of his own and household needs to be met, Brence isn’t equipped to care for his wife without some assistance.

“I can understand why they would be closed but it still does pose a heavy burden on us caregivers to have to do it by ourselves,” Brence said.

DeWine has not announced a reopening date for senior centers and adult day facilities.

“Eventually they have to leave the house. They have go to back to work,” Minnie Nair said. “They have to have places like an adult center for their older loved ones to be safe.”

Nair is the director of the adult day facility at Eliza Jennings Health Campus on Cleveland’s west side.

She recognizes the social and cognitive importance of adult day services.

“Meeting up with their peers, being socially active, being engaged,” Nair said.

Until a firm reopening date is announced, staff there is implementing protocols to eventually welcome back adults like his wife.

“We want to make sure that when our older adults come back they’re absolutely in a safe environment and their family members feel extremely safe to send them to us,” Nair said.

Below is a portion of the written mission statement of the Acacia Place Adult Day Center - Eliza Jennings Health Campus:

“At Acacia Place we understand the challenges facing full-time caregivers, and know how difficult it is to balance a work schedule and family responsibilities while caring for an older family member. We provide a safe and structured setting with increased social opportunities, assistance with personal care, and a variety of activities. Participants receive health, social and other related support on a daily basis, allowing them to remain at home, living as independently as possible. Acacia Place also offers SAIDO Learning therapy focused on improving the symptoms of dementia.”

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